Agriculture News
Steuben County
April 2021
Dear Readers:

Here's the latest edition of our newsletter for you. Enjoy the warming sun and blossoming flowers this month.

- Ariel Kirk, Agriculture Educator
Agriculture and Natural Resources Program Committee
Ed Merry
Chris Comstock
Allison Lavine
Gary Mahany
Cody Lafler
Kevin Costello
Joe Castrechino
Legislative Representatives
Hilda Lando
Fred Potter
Vegetable IPM:
Gardening from the Ground Up
Join the New York State Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program and other garden lovers the mornings of
Tuesday, April 27th, and Wednesday, April 28th
Open to the public via Zoom; Registered participants will receive a flash-drive containing all resources mentioned during the conference upon completing an evaluation after the meeting.

Cost: In order to make this meeting accessible to as many people as possible, we invite participants to pay what they can afford:
·        $10 (a subsidized rate)
·        $15 (covers the cost of the meeting)
·        $20 (supports others who wish to attend)

We’d love your attendance. If the subsidized rate poses a barrier, please contact Debra Marvin at ALL registrants who complete an emailed evaluation after the meeting will be mailed a flash drive with all meeting resources.

Registration Links:  To pay with a Credit Card  ,  To pay with a Check
Morning 1: Tuesday, April 27
8:30                 Gather that morning beverage, get comfortable, and join in for a morning filled with information to fuel this year’s dreams of growing your own vegetables.
8:50                 Welcome and Introductory Remarks from Cornell Cooperative Extension and the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program Christopher Watkins, Professor, School of Integrative Plant Science Horticulture Section and Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension
9:00     Keynote: Plant Health and IPM: Creating a Lens for Good Horticulture – Don Gabel, Director of Plant Health, The New York Botanical Garden
9:30-9:55      IPM and Organic: What do They Mean for Home Gardeners? - Abby Seaman, Vegetable IPM Coordinator, NYSIPM Program
10:00-10:05  What's Bugging You & Don't Get Ticked, New York: Resources from NYSIPM - Joellen Lampman, School and Turfgrass IPM Extension Support Specialist, NYSIPM Program
10:05-10:10  Gardening Through the Seasons - Jennie Cramer, Horticulture Program Manager, CCE Tompkins County
10:15-10:40  Setting Up the Garden (Planning for Success) - Steve Reiners, Professor and Horticulture Section Chair, School of Integrative Plant Science Horticulture Section Cornell AgriTech
10:40-10:50  Break; Get up and stretch if you haven’t already
10:50-11:15  From the Ground Up – Soil is Key (Test? Amend?) - Joseph Heller, Urban Conservationist, USDA
11:20-11:25  Composting – Adam Michaelides, Compost Educator, CCE Tompkins County
11:30-11:55  Choosing Resistant Varieties, Seed Starting, Buying Transplants - Sharon Bachman, Agriculture & Natural Resources Educator, CCE Erie County
12:15-12:45  Lunch Chats: Join others for an informal chat, question and answer session over ‘virtual’ lunch tables. Limited seating per breakout room. Registered attendees will receive an email the week before the conference to choose their preferred topics, first-come…first served. Topics hosted and monitored by Guest Speakers, Cornell Cooperative Extension and New York State Integrated Pest Management Staff.
Morning 2: Wednesday, April 28th
8:30   Settle in for today’s great topics
8:50    Welcome from Cornell Cooperative Extension and the NYS Integrated Pest Management Program – Alejandro Calixto, Director, New York State Integrated Pest Management Program    
9:00-9:25       Scouting, Monitoring- How to ID Insect and Disease Pests - Marion Zuefle, Vegetable Educator NYSIPM Program
9:30-9:55      Watering, Weather, Irrigation and Weather Stations - Dan Olmstead, NEWA Coordinator (Network for Environment and Weather Applications), NYSIPM Program
10:00-10:05  Cornell Garden-based Learning: Using Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Online Resources - Ashley Helmholdt, Extension Associate, School of Integrative Plant Science Horticulture Section
10:05-10:10  Permaculture Design Resources - Ashley Helmholdt, Extension Associate, School of Integrative Plant Science Horticulture Section
10:15-10:40  Weeding Smarter, Not Harder - Bryan Brown, Integrated Weed Management Specialist, NYSIPM Program
10:40-10:50  Break
10: 50-11:15 Beneficial Bug Basics - Amara Dunn, Biocontrol Specialist, NYSIPM Program
11:20-11:25  Paying for Home Garden installations? - Leigh McGonagle, CNLP / Owner & Designer at Poplar Point Studio
11:30-11:55  Non-Traditional Gardening: Urban Settings, Imported Soils, and Container Options - Yolanda Gonzalez, Urban Agriculture Specialist CCE Harvest New York
12:00 Thank you for your attendance: We'll follow up with an online survey.
Please complete the emailed survey so we can mail your flash drive full of the great information and links provided by the conference!

Learning Opportunities
DEC Announces Online Falconry, Wildlife Rehabilitator, and Leashed Tracking Dog Exams

Online Exams Scheduled for Friday, April 30

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced that examinations for individuals seeking a license to practice the sport of falconry, become a volunteer wildlife rehabilitator, or use leashed tracking dogs to find wounded or injured big game animals are scheduled for Friday, April 30.
To ensure access to the examinations, and prevent the spread of COVID-19, DEC is offering exams online this year instead of in-person. The exams will be available from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on April 30. Registrants will have two hours to take each exam.

To register for any of these exams, click on the exam registration link and follow the directions provided. An email will be sent acknowledging registration.

Apprentice Falconry License
Falconry has a rich history and tradition throughout the world and requires a significant commitment of time and effort. Apprentices are limited to possessing one bird, either an American kestrel or a red-tailed hawk. A falconry study guide and examination manual are available on the DEC website at no cost. The cost of a five-year falconry license is $40.
To qualify for the Apprentice Falconry license, applicants must:
  • score 80 percent or higher on the written exam;
  • be at least 14 years of age;
  • possess a valid New York State hunting license; and
  • maintain DEC-approved facilities for housing falconry raptors.

Wildlife Rehabilitator License
Wildlife rehabilitators provide care for injured, sick, and orphaned wild animals for the purpose of returning rehabilitated animals to the wild. Prospective applicants are encouraged to gain experience by serving as an assistant to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. A wildlife rehabilitator study guide and examination manual are available on the DEC website at no cost. There is no cost for the five-year wildlife rehabilitation license.
To qualify for the Wildlife Rehabilitator License, applicants must:
  • score 80 percent or higher on the written exam;
  • be at least 16 years of age; and
  • be interviewed by DEC regional wildlife staff.

Leashed Tracking Dog Handler
Leashed tracking dog handlers use their dogs to track and recover dead, wounded, or injured big game. Leashed tracking dog handlers provide a valuable service by aiding hunters in locating wounded big game that otherwise may go unrecovered. A leashed tracking dog study guide is available on the DEC website at no cost. There is a $50 license fee for the five-year leashed tracking dog license and a $25 non-refundable application fee.
To qualify for a Leashed Tracking Dog Handler License, applicants must:
  • score 80 percent or higher on the written exam; and
  • possess a valid New York State hunting license.

To register for these exams, visit the DEC Special Licenses Unit webpage. The link to the registration web page is provided on each of the individual license web pages.

For questions or assistance, please contact the Special Licenses Unit at: NYSDEC Special Licenses Unit, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4752 Phone: 518-402-8985, Fax: 518-402-8925, Email:

-NYSDEC Press Release 3/12/21
Upcoming workshops and events
Steuben County Habitat for Humanity ReStore
Plant Sale Needs your Help!

Steuben County Habitat for Humanity will be holding a small community plant sale this spring.

You can help by planting extra plants now and donating them to the ReStore from May 4 to May 21st.

All donations must be potted.
  • vegetable seedlings
  • flower plants
  • split/divided landscaping
  • trees/shrubs
  • even house plants

For more information, email Joy at or call 607-936-4444 ext. 408

Proceeds from the sale of your plants will support the mission of Habitat for Humanity in Steuben County.
Public Encouraged to Remove Birdfeeders, Feed Pets Indoors

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today reminded New Yorkers to avoid conflicts with bears by taking down bird feeders and securing garbage.
DEC has already received a few reports of bear sightings across the state. As bears emerge from their dens, they use their sensitive noses to find food. Human-related food sources such as bird feeders, pet food, and garbage can attract bears and lead to potential conflicts. Feeding bears either intentionally, which is illegal, or unintentionally through careless property management, has consequences for entire communities, as well as the bears themselves.
To reduce the potential for human-bear conflicts, DEC advises everyone residing in or visiting bear country (much of upstate New York) to remove any attractants. People should take down birdfeeders and clean up any remaining bird seed by April 1, store garbage inside secure buildings, and feed pets indoors. By taking these simple steps, New Yorkers can help to ensure bears will find food naturally, which in turn protects people, property, and bears.
For more information, please visit DEC’s webpage on reducing human-bear conflicts.
-NYSDEC press release 3/22/21
Finger Lakes
National Heritage Area Designation Effort Underway

Dear Readers,
The Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance is working hard to secure our regional landscape as a National Heritage Area. This designation would allow new, national funding streams to help our area economically with no ill-effects to landowners. Property rights would not be effected under this National Heritage title.
Please read below for more detailed information on what the designation entails, and lend your name in support if you so choose by following the quick but specific guidelines listed on their webpage. The deadline for supporting comments and letters is June 1, 2021 -Ariel Kirk

As you may know, the Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance (FLTA) is working to secure a National Heritage Area designation for the Finger Lakes. This National Heritage Area designation will recognize the region’s nationally distinctive landscape, telling the stories that helped shape our nation, state, and region. The historical, cultural and natural assets will be shared on a national level. For further understanding, the National Park Service (NPS) states:

“As a strategy for community-led conservation and development, national heritage areas are places where historic, cultural, and natural resources combine to form cohesive, nationally important landscapes. If designated by Congress, national heritage areas are managed by local coordinating entities that accomplish goals of interpreting the heritage area history and traditions through partnerships with governments, organizations, businesses, and individuals. National heritage area coordinating entities collaborate with communities to determine how to make heritage relevant to local interests and needs. A national heritage area is not a unit of the National Park System, nor is any of its land owned or managed by the NPS, unless such land was previously set aside as a unit of the National Park System. The creation of a new national heritage area does not change existing private property rights. Learn more about the NPS National Heritage Areas program here.

-Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance

Please visit the Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance webpage for details on lending your support to the effort (constituting a personalized letter of support) here
** Your Advertisement Here! **

Dear Readers,
Through this publication, CCE Steuben serves farmers, agribusinesses, and county residents of all ages interested in current agriculture, horticulture, and natural resources topics. You can contribute a logo and/or have space for a promotional message to reach the local agriculture community.

$100.00 for the remainder of the year - December 2021

Contact Anne at 607-664-2300 or email her here for more details.
Would you like to save on your farm energy bills? The agricultural sector is full of opportunities to reduce energy use through efficiency measures while saving money, labor, and maintenance costs. As we know, energy inputs are required at every stage of production, from soil prep and harvesting crops to electricity for livestock housing. This significant energy use can leave farmers vulnerable to volatile energy market fluctuations and high energy expenses. Farms can save substantial energy savings and enhance productivity by using preventative equipment maintenance, improving building efficiency, and installing new high-efficiency motors or lighting.

The Ag Energy NY – Best Energy Practices Program is a program by Cornell Cooperative Extension that is offering a new smartphone-friendly website. Printed materials are also offered to make it easy for individual farmers to drill down to specific practices with the most significant energy savings potential to impact their farms. The program will offer energy advising in the following farm sectors: beef, poultry, swine, grain drying, crops and vegetables, maple, orchards, berries, and vineyards. The program's technology content was developed by accredited engineers, based on their agricultural energy field experience, technical reference materials, supported by peer-reviewed journals, current industry standards, and field research. Other program materials, such as training materials, web development, and online information management, are being carried out by a team of educators, engineers, and professionals according to their respective disciplines.

After reviewing the best energy practices online, you can also reach out to our team to ask questions on saving energy on your farm and guidance on possible resources or incentives. Topics explored include examples of savings by the farm sector and technology highlights pertinent to each sector, such as lighting, refrigeration, ventilation, motors, pumps, controls, thermal technologies, and the like. To find out more visit our website,
-Ag Energy NY – Best Energy Practices Program
Woodlot Edibles: Maple Syrup
Dear Readers,
Please enjoy this excerpt from The Western Finger Lakes Forest Owner - Spring 2021 edition, written by David Deuel. It is the western chapter of the NY Forest Owner's Association (NYFOA), a not for profit organization working toward sustainable woodlot practices on their own properties. For more information, go to their website here.

“Of all the foods produced in New York, maple sugar, maple sirup, and maple cream are most typically American. About 33% of the total United States production comes from New York. These foods, definitely luxuries, are attractive products from which the sugar bush or grove operator may obtain substantial cash return for his labor and investment and they are made when other farm work is less pressing.” This is the opening statement in Cornell Extension Bulletin 974, Production of Maple Sirup and other Maple Products, published in the mid 1950’s and (the copy I have) reprinted in 1967.

There are a number of WFL members much more qualified than I to write about maple products. Celia and I started in 2006 with 20 taps and a fabricated stainless pan over cinder blocks. We now have a 2x6 evaporator and 250 taps, still very much a hobby/part time effort, averaging about 70 gallons of syrup annually. Cornell Coop Extension and the New York State Maple Producers Association are excellent sources of information and advice to get started. Ask any maple producer for help/advice, and one will be overwhelmed with tips and information.
Most of us enjoy maple products. Syrup is obviously the most widely consumed, yet the list of maple products is only bound by the imagination. Maple sugar, cream, confections, sauces, coated nuts, ice cream, cotton candy, soda, milk, dog biscuits, and on and on. I recently read a research article on using maple flavoring to increase feed efficiencies in livestock. It reminds me of the old “Maypo” commercials of our childhoods. Once you start making maple syrup you will consider it a necessity, not a luxury. We use it daily. My personal favorite is a dark (stronger flavor) syrup along with any type of berries, on my morning oatmeal.
Another favorite is the following salad dressing. This has become a summer staple at our house. If you have maple trees in your woodlot, and some spare time, give maple production a try. The end result is delicious. Enjoy!

Aunt Sue’s Salad Dressing:

• 1 cup olive oil
•½ cup balsamic vinegar
•¼ cup maple syrup
•2 tsp Dijon mustard
•1 garlic clove-minced
•Salt & pepper to taste

Written by David Deuel
Dairy Market Watch

Please find the latest issue of Dairy Market Watch here for those reading the email version of Ag News.
For those with mailed copies, it is included as an insert within your mailing.
Utility Scale Solar - What You Should Know
Timothy X. Terry, Farm Strategic Planning Specialist, Pro-Dairy
In March of 2020, Gov. Cuomo announced in his State of the State address an ambitious goal of 70% of the state’s electricity needs would be generated via renewable means by 2030. Under this Green New Deal the mandate increases to 100% by 2040. As a result coal-fired plants will be idled while more wind and solar projects will be initi­ated. For you, as a holder of large tracts of open land, that may mean that you will be visited by landmen seeking to lease all or a por­tion of that land to use for constructing a solar array. Understand, this is not a couple dozen panels up on the barn roof generating a few kilowatts, but acres of panels on the ground gen­erating several megawatts of electricity. This is not necessarily a bad thing as it reduces carbon emissions and may provide a second­ary income stream for you, especially if it is placed on marginal land or land not currently in productive use. That said, in order for this to be a benefit and not a detri­ment you need to go into it with your head up and your eyes open.
Understand that this is an industry in its infancy, and lease documents are not battle tested so don’t sign any landman’s forms as is. There is potential for many unrealistic provisions and expectations, and almost everything is fair game for negotiation with few, if any, “deal breakers”. You will need professional legal counsel. You may be able to educate yourself on under­standing the broad strokes of a commercial lease, but here the devil is in the de­tails and is why you need an attorney.
This transaction is a com­mercial lease, but it’s a lease on steroids and may be 50 – 70 pages long. It is at a higher level of sophis­tication than any ag tenant lease, utility easement, or right of way (ROW). There will be permanent structures built that do not become fixtures owned by you the landlord. Part and parcel of the lease is a solar easement on the surrounding acreage which means you can’t do anything that might inter­rupt the flow of sunlight. So that means no tower silos, large grain bins, tree plantings, etc. upstream of the incoming sunlight. Un­like the gas lease there are no royalties or subsurface rights.
The tenant (solar company) has some unique needs to understand. The structures have greater requirements for access, maintenance, and transmission than other util­ity operations. The income stream from the structures is used as collateral to obtain financing, and the tenant’s ability to continue opera­tions on your land cannot be interfered with by anyone holding a superior interest in the land (i.e. -mortgage). You may need to subordi­nate superior liens. All lease documents will be recorded with your deed.
Go into this with the understanding that this is a long-term (>40 years) business relationship. The structures mentioned above may be sold multiple times. The tenant has the abil­ity to assign (transfer) the lease without your approval, and this is non-negotiable. Given this, there is likely to be several tenant changes over the life of the lease. (Likewise, there could be landowner changes, too.) The presence of a solar ar­ray may also affect the mar­ketability of your property which could impact your heirs.
The property tax liability should be a shared responsi­bility with the tenant paying for the increase in the as­sessment. You will need to make sure the tenant main­tains liability insurance and names you as a co-insured. This is for your protection. They should also furnish you with a Certificate of Insurance (COI) each year, as well as indemnify you for any costs, losses, liabilities, etc. that arise from their activities. This must be all encompassing.
At some point in time the agreement and the array will reach its end of life. The structures age, are super­seded by a new technology, you or your heirs do not wish to renew, whatever. The decommissioning, or removal and restoration, of the site is important and must be negotiated and established in detail upfront even though it may not oc­cur for decades. You may not even be dealing with the same people that originally signed the lease. A De­commissioning or Performance Bond is one way of making sure there is funding available to get the job done to the satisfaction of the specifica­tions originally negotiated. The exact nature of the bond is hard to determine, but this is where it makes sense to consult an attorney.
The Agreement
The agreement comes in two parts: the Option Agree­ment and the Lease agree­ment, but even before that you may be presented with a Preliminary Letter of Intent. This one page document is basically a non-disclosure agreement or confidentiality clause so that future terms, especially the fi­nancial compen­sation, are not disclosed to oth­ers. Sometimes these letters omit that disclosure is allowed to at­torneys, accoun­tants, financial advisors, family etc. -- so make sure that is in there.
The Option Agreement (10-12 pages) locks in the land for a due diligence period of 1-5 years while the solar company decides if they want to develop the site. You will receive some payments during the period to secure their development rights, access to the site, and your confidentiality. This gives them time to do a more thorough fea­sibility study including a title search, legal survey, distance to grid connec­tion, and neighboring land availability. They are trying to determine the viability of development – financial and otherwise. No ground will be broken at this time, ex­cept for some soil borings, and they will bear all the costs. You may still farm the land during this period, but no development. In other words, no new home site, heifer barn, satellite manure storage, etc. on the optioned property.
The Lease Agreement – a.k.a. Ground Lease (50-70 pages) – shows up when the solar company decides to develop the site. You will be sent a copy of the agreement to sign within a specified period. You have no chance to renegotiate at this time so don’t sign the option agreement without also negotiating the entire lease agreement.
Some of us are good at animal husbandry, others are good at crop production, and still others excel at ag engineering. It’s a rarity, however, that any have successfully negotiated a commercial agreement as intricate as a solar lease. This is why you need to secure professional legal help. Start with your own attorney. If they’re not com­fortable with it ask them who’d they least like to go up against in court. Look for someone experienced with real estate contracts, land acquisition, or better yet, oil and gas leases.
Even though your attorney may do all the talking there are some things you need to know or at least consider:
1. Understand your bar­gaining position - They have to have the land, and until you sign an agreement you have all the leverage. Unfortunately, you have little or none after signing so get it up front. It’s best to think about this in the long term – not just the immedi­ate benefit.
The lease will often be presented with a sense of urgency, perhaps even as a crisis. This is nothing more than a marketing technique. Landmen / leasing agents want to make the sale. The first offer is not their best offer. (Negotiation 101 – Never begin a negotia­tion from a point you can’t immediately abandon.) Ask yourself, “Is this the only offer I will get?” “If one developer is interested will there be others?” “Can I walk away?” “Which terms are flexible, which are not?” Offers may range from X to 10X and is likely due to the number of middle men the lease may have to go through. Proximity to exist­ing infrastructure – high voltage power lines, substa­tions, facilities to be built – may also be a factor. Cost to construct a substation is considerable, so if you’re located less than two miles from one your site may garner a premium.
You may be thinking, “Why don’t I just develop this myself?” According to the Pennsylvania Dept. of Envi­ronmental Protection a solar array requires an average investment of $1.13M per megawatt for utility scale solar. Think about that for a minute. There is a deadline and of­fers due get retracted, so be deliberate but don’t dawdle.

2. Determine what you want and/or what you want to prevent. Do this before seeing your attorney as it will help them help you. Think: What will this look like when it’s opera­tional and over the next 40 years? What’s important to me? Think through the fi­nances. What will and won’t you allow? Do you want to protect natural structures – pond, lakes, creeks, etc.? Are there places you don’t want solar panels and /or ROW’s? Do you want to grow or do something under or between the rows of panels? Every property is unique. Describe specifi­cally what you want to go into the option. Many leases don’t spe­cifically state 40 - 50 years, instead they are written for 10 or 20 years plus a series of 5 year options.
Option period payments tend to be small because it’s a period of highest risk for the developer. Can you get more money? Try bargain­ing for more money or less time to develop – real money is when it’s opera­tional. Critical in any long term leasing agreement is to build in an escalator – dol­lars have to keep pace with inflation. What initially looked like the gravy train could, over time, only buy you a cup of coffee. Use the government inflation statis­tics as the escalator. This is typical of commercial rental agreements so you shouldn’t get any push-back from the developer.
3. Don’t assume you can do things that are not written in the lease agree­ment. Include in the initial negotiation or via adden­dum. The guy who sits down on the back deck and tells you all the nice money you’re going to make and what a wonderful person you are and how this is going to be a great thing -- once you sign the lease you may never see him again. Instead, you’ll be dealing with someone who has the company’s best interest in mind. It doesn’t matter if it wasn’t written down. It is a bitter pill to swallow, but realize that while you still own the land you won’t be able to use the land. The chain link fence and barbed wire sends the message that no one, not even the land­owner, is welcome in there. Grazing cattle, growing crops, setbacks, even place­ment of panels and control units need to be delineated up front. You will need to specify continued access to the back 40, pastures, water sources, or the secret fishing hole.
4. Understand the dura­tion of the lease. Basic math here: Option + Con­struction + Operations + Renewals = Duration of the Lease. The option period may be as long as 4-5 years with very little money coming in. There is usually little or no breakdown of the various categories in the lease except maybe renew­als. Options periods range from 30 – 60 months, and it may be in your best inter­est to push for lower – the sooner they start paying you the real money the better. A Memorandum of Lease document will be recorded on your deed in courthouse.
5. The option agreement is their option not your option. They can pull out at any time so don’t spend the lease money before you have it. However, don’t think you’re going to get out of it if you change your mind. Depending on how it’s written, by signing the option agreement you are also signing the lease agree­ment – this is where your attorney earns his/her keep. You may not have your land developed after you sign a lease. You can’t get out of it or amend it after you sign. They may option all of your land, but only use a por­tion of it. You may be able to push this with the solar company, i.e. – they have to use a minimum percent­age or release the remaining acreage.
6. Know how to modify your lease. Step 1 – find an attorney (see #1) Le­gal contracts require legal help. Answer the long term questions upfront. Get what you want in writing before signing the lease as changes are not possible afterward. Shorten the option period and/or increase the option money. You may unknow­ingly be agreeing to a Warranty of Title thereby indemnifying the solar com­pany. As landowner you are guaranteeing that you have perfect, blemish free owner­ship of the property, but that is not usually the case as there may be other leases, originated generations ago, that are still in effect today, such as utility ROW’s, conservation easements, FSA/NRCS administered programs, subsurface rights(oil, gas), etc. There may be some long hidden environ­mental hazards that come to light during installation. If you indemnify the solar company you are essentially giving them a blank check. Curtail this as much as pos­sible. Lease offers usually have some flexibility.
7. Be clear on when, where, and how you will be paid. After you’ve done your due diligence and have settled on an offer be clear that you are not giving them anything for free. Even water used for cleaning and maintaining the panels. Get paid for any access they will be restricting. Getting paid for ALL acres used includ­ing access and ROW’s not just the solar field itself. Be sure that they will main­tain any ROW’s – keeping brush and noxious weeds trimmed. You’ll want the payment terms to be clear and concise. There are many different arrangements on the options. Sometimes pay­ment is upfront, sometimes there is a modest upfront plus annual payments. You need to specify defined dates, i.e. - “Need to have a check for this amount on this date or solar company is in default.” Define what happens if payment(s) are missed – are you free and clear from the lease, how will back payments be recouped?
8. Things that are written count, things that are spo­ken don’t. Once you sign the option you may never see the landman that origi­nated the lease option again. You will likely be dealing with an entirely different person and/or entity, or even their attorneys. Avoid fall­ing for “that doesn’t need to be in there”, or “Everybody knows that’s ok” state­ments. Get all the promises in writing. If it’s important to you it has to be in the agreement. Even down to minute details – such as herbicide use especially on an organic operation. These leases are so new there is no track record and procedures have not been standardized. Define who, when, and how the site will be maintained. What happens if a water line or drain tile is cut during construction – who pays? How will it be repaired? There may be shared farm lanes, but who will maintain them? Get it in writing!
9. Things your neighbors may not like. Fences limit hunting. Arrays may detract from their views. Local zoning may exercise some limitations. You may have already leased out part of that land for another ag enterprise, this should be recorded on the lease. What will happen to these things following construction? For instance, will the array interfere with maple sap harvesting? Will part of the sugarbush be removed to accommodate the array? Will there be light intrusions from security lights? How will the grounds around the facility be maintained vis-à-vis weeds, grass, litter caught in the security fence, etc? What visual screening will be provided around the site?
10. Not all info on the in­ternet is good info. Some is very good, some is conspir­atorial, most is somewhere in between.
Site plans may/ may not be required. These are usually not a condition of the option but may be required for the lease.

Decommissioning and land recovery – bargain for the maximum amount of clean-up and removal, and remedies if they don’t. This is often addressed by a performance bond secured at, or prior to, signing of the agreement.
Determine the remedies and disposition of the lease if the solar company is liquidated. You don’t want or need the responsibility of remediating the site. Sure, much of the galvanized steel structure may look pretty appealing, but the panels may be considered hazard­ous waste requiring special disposal and a hefty tip­ping fee. Plus it needs to be properly disconnected from the grid.

This may affect Land Trust easements and or any “clean and green” status. Often if 50% or more of the power generated is used internally it is not a problem, how­ever, this is not likely for an industrial sized project. Any roll back taxes should fall to developer.
As stated earlier, securing legal services is a must not an option. Figure on 10 – 12 billable hours, or more, depending on how complex the lease may be.
Dear Readers,
Did you know that Cornell's Climate Smart Farming program has many tools to help residents and producers prepare for extreme weather events or plan for the upcoming season based on historic data?

Through the website found here, you will find tutorials for the tools, such as a growing degree day calculator, produce-specific probability plots (ie, apple stage and freeze probability), water deficit calculator by location, and the ability to view climate change by specific county, among other tools.

  • 6+ acres for lease for organic cultivation. Must have ag exemption. Call (607) 483-8758 between 10:30 AM and 5:00 PM, M – F.

  • Available For Rent: Steuben County SWCD has an Esch 10’ No-Till Drill for rent. Rates are $12-$25/acre based on number of acres planted. Delivery/pickup available. Please call (607)776-7398 ext.3 for more information.

  • Seeking conservation minded individual with interests in permaculture to rent 3-4 acre, gentle grade, southern exposure field for agricultural production in Steuben County, NY. Acceptable practices include organic vegetable production, small scale poultry, and organic greenhouse or high tunnel production. Other considerations will be determined by owner. Improved, uncultivated ground will require proper preparation for success. Currently no housing available on the property, but can be discussed with owner in the future. Contact CCE Steuben at (607)664-2574 for further information.

  • Attention Cattle Farmers: I have pasture/farmland for rent, 40-50 acres, reasonable rate. Located in Steuben County on State Rt. 63. Contact Marian Crawford at (585)728-5303.

  • Looking for a farmer interested in a lease agreement for approximately 40 - 50 acres in Howard at the intersection of CR69 and Dublin Road. Please call Bill at (484)794-1400 for more information.
Ariel Kirk, Agriculture Educator -